Interview With a Former Greater Bluffton Pathways Board Member

Blufftonian: What was Greater Bluffton Pathways?

Buzz McBike: The Mission Statement was to safely connect people and places in Greater Bluffton with pathways and walkways.

Blufftonian: Did it succeed?

Buzz McBike: Between 2005 and 2009 quite a bit was accomplished working with Beaufort County. That is when the pathways on Bluffton Parkway and Buckwalter  Parkway were installed. We also helped facilitate the pathways around McCracken Circle and the Beaufort County Rail Trail. The pathway at New Riverside was installed by the developer and is probably the Town of Bluffton’s only significant installation.

Blufftonian: What’s the difference between a sidewalk and a pathway?

Buzz McBike: What we were looking for was the installation of 10′ to 12′ pathways suitable for walking and biking. A sidewalk will not accommodate both at once. I will offer a little more below.

Blufftonian: Do you consider the organization a success?

Buzz McBike: Yes and No. I don’t think you can consider Bluffton a walk / bike friendly community. The pathways along the parkways aren’t much fun and they are a bit on the dangerous side. We never really connected Savannah to Old Town and Old Town to Hilton Head, which would have been ideal, but we did accomplish a few things as mentioned above.

Blufftonian: Is it free to ride into Palmetto Bluff?

Buzz McBike: I don’t think it is. It was originally, but that changed somewhere along the lines. Too bad. It’s a nice place to ride. New Riverside is a pretty good riding path as most of it is away from the road; unlike the parkways. But you have to navigate the traffic circle to connect to anything. On the bright side, the further you get from Old Town the more polite the drivers are, so crossing the traffic circle is doable. Plus, it’s a bigger circle which gives pedestrians and bikers a greater certainty of the situation as they try to cross. The little circle at RTE 46 and Bluffton Parkway is dangerious for bikers and pedestrians.

Blufftonian: What’s your best recommendation to Blufftonians who want to ride a bike?

Buzz McBike: Put your bike on a bike rack and drive to Hilton Head. It’s pretty close and they have 100+ miles of pathways and 14 miles beaches that are rideable (except at high tide). My wife and I rode 4000 miles on the beach in one year not too long ago, and it was awesome. And, the pathways over there go everywhere. Please make sure you recognize for safety’s-sake that cars always have the right-of-way on Hilton Head Island. That being said, It’s pretty fantastic!

Types of Pathways

Off Road Multi-Use Paths, Leisure Trails and Rail Trails are the same type of bike facility.    Hilton Head Island has 35 public miles of this type of pathway.  Great for families, joggers, walkers, rollerbladers, wheelchairs, baby strollers.  Not suitable for some commuters and cyclists who want a straight fast route and who bike for exercise.  Width (8’ vs 14’), surface quality and maintenance of trail will determine how many people will use these trails on a regular basis.  Generally, the wider, the better, though ten feet wide is the current recommended standard. Narrower pathways create conflict between pedestrians and cyclists.  Concrete or asphalt surface is preferred by most people.

Sidewalks – 5 ft. width is recommended by AASHTO[1]  Cyclists should not ride on sidewalks (with the exception of small children)

Shared Roadways – Bicyclists are legally able to use all roadways, but today many connector roads are seen as unsafe because of traffic speed or traffic volume. All of the following pathways are less expensive than Off Road Multi-Use Paths and each serves a particular purpose.  Many adult cyclists as well as motorists can be comfortable “Sharing the Road.”

Bike Routes on Quiet Roads – Many rural roads in Jasper, Colleton and Hampton Counties have beautiful vistas with low traffic volume.  Bluffton, Beaufort, Port Royal, Yemassee have Historic Districts which are very conducive for exploring by bike. Other than maps and website posting to show suggested routes, no additional funding is necessary.

Wide Curb Lanes – Main Streets such as Paris Ave. in the town of Port Royal has a low volume of traffic and 35 mph or less speed limit with 14’-16’ wide travel lanes.  Cyclists usually feel they have plenty of room to ride comfortably and safely.  When parking is added along these streets, safety diminishes somewhat for the cyclist.

Paved Shoulders   – SC DOT is adding these to both sides of the road along parts of Rt. 170, Rt. 21 and Rt. 46. Additional shoulder width is recommended on heavily traveled and high-speed roads and those carrying large numbers of trucks and RV’s.

4 foot minimum when no curb is present.

5 foot minimum against curb, parking, or guardrail

6 feet recommended for ultimate comfort and safety[2]

Bike Lanes –  Bike lanes carry bike traffic in the same direction as adjacent motor vehicle traffic and should be placed on the right side of the street in each direction of travel.  Most bike lanes are 5-6 feet wide. Bike lanes define and identify bicycling locations. These can be incorporated into a roadway when it is desirable to set aside available road space for preferential use by bicyclists and motorists, and to provide for more predictable movements by each.  Bike lane markings (stencil of cyclist with arrow showing direction of travel) can increase a cyclist’s confidence in motorists not straying into their path of travel. Tinting the bike lane is helpful.  See AASHTO Manual for additional guidelines.

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